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The Connecticut-based research and advisory firm Nerac has had quite a journey. It started out in 1966 as a three-person operation out of the basement of the University of Connecticut School of Business. Since then, the company has grown into an international firm with 250 employees serving more than 2,000 clients, including Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, Kyocera America, Nike, and Chevron. Since its inception as a collaboration between UConn and NASA, Nerac performed many of the same functions that Google does now taking requests from clients and searching through NASA's databases for pertinent information. That all changed when Google arrived on the scene, forcing Nerac to shift its dynamic. Nerac's dealings with global industries might also further insulate it from economic crises.
36 InformationToday November 2008 www.infotoday.com have made life much easier for analysts. Nerac: From Search to Analysis Now they can easily complete a number of tasks that would have been much more difficult with the old system, she says. by BILL GREENWOOD | “Having a platform based in XML gives us the greatest flexibility when it comes T he Connecticut-based research to using analytical software packages and advisory firm Nerac has had and various graphic tools,” she says. “It’s quite a journey. really allowed us the capability of look- It started out in 1966 as a three-person ing at a host of records at a single time, operation out of the basement of the Uni- portfolios of information, which improves versity of Connecticut School of Business. our ability to locate distinct trends with- Since then, the company has grown into an in a marketplace and gives us more of a international firm with 250 employees serv- bird’s-eye view when we’re looking at up ing more than 2,000 clients, including Mi- to 10,000 documents.” crosoft, Procter & Gamble, Kyocera Amer- ica, Nike, and Chevron. The company also posted a 5-year growth rate of 53%, accord- An Analyst’s Perspective ing to the Connecticut Technology Council. According to Blossom, these moves have But according to Shore Communica- put Nerac in a good place for the future. He tions, Inc. president and senior analyst door to a customer has been touched by gether in an innovative way and it failed says that while the research and advisory John Blossom, that growth was not always an analyst in a way that represents an because they couldn’t talk to one another. services market as a whole is shrinking, so pronounced. “It seems like it was kind element of value added.” We didn’t want to have that kind of situ- Nerac may continue to have steady and of a quiet company on a slower track, if you According to Nerac analyst and vice ation develop with the redeployment of a possibly accelerated growth because of its will, for a long time,” he says. “But I think president of research and advisory serv- new Nerac business model.” focus on markets that haven’t been over- the world has turned to a certain degree.” ices Gerri Potash, this shift was an organic Nerac is using the server as a “plat- saturated with advice, such as the auto- And Nerac CEO Kevin Bouley agrees. one, as Nerac’s clients began to push the form for creation,” according to Bouley, mobile industry. Since its inception as a collaboration be- company in this direction after Google and the company has built two propri- “They may be victims to a certain de- tween UConn and NASA, Nerac performed reared its head. etary tools dealing with deep analytics gree of the ups and downs in the econ- many of the same functions that Google “Our clients were the first to tell us that that run on top of it. omy. People’s budgets may expand and does now, taking requests from clients and they wanted to engage in new ways,” she “Mark Logic handles the underlying shrink when it comes to making a new searching through NASA’s databases for says. “They kept pushing the envelope XML content requirements, and then the budget for getting third-party insight for pertinent information. That all changed and inviting us to do things like meta- toolsets that we built give us the oppor- market positions. But overall, they tend when Google arrived on the scene, forcing analyses, wanted us to help them with port- tunity to have analysts interrogate data not to be serving markets that are over- Nerac to shift its dynamic. folio review for patents. … It wasn’t Nerac and, from that, deliver insights and ob- saturated for that advice,” Blossom says. “Today, content and search are ubiq- [that] said ‘Hey, we really want to start hav- servations that, arguably, are invisible Nerac’s dealings with global industries uitous,” Bouley says. “They’re every- ing these types of projects,’ it was like the unless you come up with a way to inter- might also further insulate it from eco- where, and there is no value in raw con- projects just started coming in.” rogate the data,” he says. nomic crises, according to Blossom. ten
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